Task force looks to make college more affordable

Published: Nov. 12, 2020 at 7:00 PM CST
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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) -Nowadays it can be expensive to get a college degree. That’s just one of many things an education task force is taking into account as they look to be more productive and efficient with state dollars.

The Senate Bill 55 Task Force is made up of 20 people. Some from the board of regents as well as state legislators and other education leaders in South Dakota.

All agree that higher education is important.

“The economic impact that these universities bring to each of these different communities is substantial and it has a big impact on our state economy and our future workforce,” said Jim Thares with the South Dakota Board of Regents.

A 2016 study showed South Dakota public universities generated about $2.66 billion dollars of annual economic impact to South Dakota from a state investment at that time of $197 million.

Now the task force is planning for future success.

“How could we become, maybe more efficient or more useful of our state dollars, but at the same time we have to make sure we’re providing the quality education that these students need and certainly deserve,” said Thares.

“I think a really good example here at the University of South Dakota is they changed how their book store operated. Went online, was less money for the university to use in other ways, but it saved the students hundred of thousands of dollars,” said South Dakota State Legislator Hugh Bartels.

The task force is also looking at ways to make college more accessible.

“We have challenges today with funding for need-based scholarships and the cost of education is not going down no matter how efficient we get to be. And so we have to find ways to make sure we can find the funding and allocation to make sure every individual, every high school student has an opportunity to advance,” said Thares.

The group will be meeting several more times. Then will report their findings to the legislature and Gov. Kristi Noem by Nov. 15th of 2021.

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